Surprise, surprise – reports of unruly passengers onboard U.S. commercial flights have plummeted since the mask mandate was voided last month. The news provides welcome relief for airlines and flight attendants in particular, but also a new line of attack for Sara Nelson, a powerful flight attendant union boss.
With Mask Mandate Vacated, Unruly Passenger Complaints Plummet
Complaints over unruly passengers have dropped to their lowest level since 2020, a period before the federal mask mandate was introduced. The latest figures from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration show there were only 1.9 incidents per 10,000 flights for the week ending April 24, 2022. That represents a huge drop from the 4.4 incidents per 10,000 flights for the prior week.
What could be the cause? Well, it’s either that masks are no longer required onboard or that American Airlines has started serving liquor again in economy class. I’d wager that the lack of mandatory masking helps to explain why passengers have mellowed out.
(Remember, whether masks should be required is a different mater than whether you should wear a mask.)
Whatever the cause, it represents goods news for airlines, passengers, and especially flight attendants. But Sara Nelson, President of the Association of Flight Attendants, has told The Washington Post she now wants the FAA to focus on alcohol-related problems and still wants a new national do-not-fly list:
“The frequency of disruptive and violent passengers is still way higher than pre-pandemic, and there’s still a lot of work to do to stop or mitigate these incidents on planes.”
Dear Sara, give it some time.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) recently asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at a hearing last week if he would wear a mask on his next flight. Buttigieg responded:
“I’m not sure. It’ll depend on conditions that day. I don’t have a flight today, but next time I do, I’ll think it over.”
My answer leans more likely no, but I just got over a cold…as uncomfortable as I find a properly-fitted medical mask, I will note that it was nice to avoid common colds during the pandemic. We must continue to be vigilant when it comes to hygiene and respect the decision of others whether to wear a mask…or not.